2 bystanders killed in high-speed police chase after car plows into outdoor dining area

A car fleeing police plowed into an outdoor dining area Friday afternoon in Newport, Kentucky, killing two people and injuring two others.

Police said the pursuit started in Cincinnati and raced across the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge before ending with the crash at a restaurant on across the state line in Kentucky. The crash left debris and mangled chairs scattered across the street and sidewalk.

Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac said the chase began at 4:22 p.m. in Cincinnati when police officers attempted to stop a car with three suspects inside. He said the officers, who were part of a federal task force with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, were investigating possible weapons violations.

When the car did not pull over, Isaac said, at least two police cruisers gave chase. He said they followed the suspect’s car through city streets, across the bridge and into Newport, Kentucky, where it struck the four people outside the restaurant.

“This is a tragedy,” Isaac said. When asked about the suspects, who have not been identified, Isaac said, “Very, very obviously their actions caused the deaths of two individuals.” He did not identify the victims of the crash but said the two who survived are hospitalized with “non-life-threatening injuries.”

He said it was unclear how fast the suspect’s car or the police cruisers were going, though witnesses said the suspect was driving at a high rate of speed. Isaac said the three suspects in the car had minor injuries and are in police custody. Newport police are leading the crash investigation.

Isaac said police will conduct an internal investigation into the pursuit. “We will be examining the propriety of our officers’ actions,” Isaac said. “We always examine our pursuits.”

Police pursuits are both common and dangerous, creating challenges for officers who must balance the risk to public safety with the need to apprehend suspects. A 2017 study by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that an average of 355 people were killed annually in police pursuits between 1996 and 2015 – roughly one death every day.

“Pursuits are always a concern,” Isaac said. Police spokesman Lt. Steve Saunders said the suspect driving the car was believed to be armed when police began the pursuit.

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